Botnets - What Are They? By Niall Roche

Never heard the term botnet before? That's not really all that surprising because it's something that most home computer users would be totally unaware of. The weird thing is that right now you could be part of a botnet and not have a clue about it. Sounds kinda scary doesn't it?

So what are botnets? They are large numbers of computers that have been infected with viruses by hackers that allows these computers to be grouped together in a network. Why? Because the hacker can then use these computers to sent out junk e-mail, spread even more viruses to create bigger botnetworks or even carry out a DOS (Denial of Service) attack on a website or server and cause it to crash.

The worst part about botnets is that it's very, very hard to track down the guys who created them in the first place. On top of that they're being used more and more as part of DOS extortion schemes. How? These guys can basically crash your entire web server unless you pay them whatever amount of money they want. If it's just a personal website then you can live without it for a few days but what if it's an e-commerce site that generates thousands of dollars in sales each day? How seriously would you take the treat then?

So how big can botnets get? There could be as few as 50 machines and up to as many as a few thousand - it's all down to the skill of the hacker himself. And the thing is that one of these hacker networks doesn't need to be huge to cause huge damage. A botnet of about 400-500 computers is more than enough to bring a corporate website to it's knees with a DOS attack.

So is there any way to fight back against botnets? It's possible but it's getting tougher - these guys are shrinking the size of their networks to stay off the radar. They know people are becoming more technically aware and taking extra precautions so in turn they have to work smarter and harder too.

One way that botnets can be tracked is using something called a honeypot. This is a group of computers that are left wide open to attack from online sources. Basically you take a bundle of unpatched Windows computers and connect them to the 'net. Then you watch how the hacker goes about compromising these systems and creating their bot network. That information can be then used to create better security tools to fight back against botnets or even to just allow Microsoft to release a new patch to cover the latest glaring security hole that gets found.

Do you have any idea who many online threats there are out there? Without a solid computer security suite your computer will be attacked or infested within two hours of being online! Get more computer security tips here: [can't connect to the server at].

Learn more at

More Windows Administration Information:
• What is Phishing and How to Safeguard Against It
• Four Tips to Safe Web Browsing
• What is Riskware or Grayware?
• What's a Root Kit and How Hackers Are Getting Into Your Computer With It
• What is 2-Factor Authentication?
• Seven Steps to a Secure Wireless Network
• Flash Animations and Videos Install Viruses
• Guide to Selecting the Right Spyware Removal Tool
• How to Protect Yourself Against Keyloggers
• Fundamentals of Windows Security